Tips from the County Health Officer: Make Plans Now in Case of Disaster

is Dr. Kenneth Bird

A disaster can happen at any moment, at any place, and with little, or no, warning. Causes can be natural, as in an earthquake, infectious illness outbreak, wildfire, extreme heat or flood. They can be man-made, as in a biological, chemical, blast, or radiological attack or accident. It can also come in the form of a personal accident (a fall, poisoning, near drowning, choking or severe cut). The results are often tragic.

Yet the Federal Emergency Management Agency recently found that nearly 60% of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster and that only 39% have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their household, despite the fact that 80% of Americans live in counties that have been hit with a weather-related disaster.

You can take action before such disasters strike that can make the difference for you and your family between surviving and succumbing to such events.

To prepare for personal accidents in your home, everyone old enough to understand the concepts should know basic first aid and CPR. A first aid kit containing all of the essentials should be stored in a designated, easily accessible place (but young child-proof), and the contents checked twice a year. A fire extinguisher should be in a designated location, and the family should know how to use it. The number for poison control should be readily available to everyone.

Larger scale disasters generally require one of two primary responses: evacuation or sheltering in place. You should develop a disaster plan for both that consists of:
  • A family communication plan
  • Knowing which places in your house are safest, depending upon the threat; meeting places outside the home; and escape routes
  • Knowing how to shut off water, electricity, and gas
  • Fire resistant and waterproof storage of important documents
  • An emergency kit, in waterproof and easily transportable containers. Recommended items can be found at emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters/


It is extremely important to include your children in planning for disasters, and plan for pets. I encourage you to check out Ready Wrigley, the Preparedness Pup.
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